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Matthew Hutchins' Physics of A Merry-Go-Round

Explanationof Centripetal Force

Linear Speed
Angular Speed
The F-Word
Sample Problems

One of the reasons that kids love merry-go-rounds is because you get to spin in a circle very fast and you need to hold on for dear life.  That is also the reason that many of the playgrounds across the country are removing them.  Almost anyone you ask that tells you they have ridden a merry-go-round will also tell you that they have fallen off of one.
But Why?

First off a few things need to be established before we continue.


Scalar vs. Vector


Scalar- A quantifiable measurement of speed, mass, distance, etc containing only magnitude.


            eg) 15mph   32ft/s   46 g


Vector- A measurement of speed, etc. with magnitude and direction.


            eg)  15mph to the east   32ft/s bearing 34 degrees


Newton’s Laws


Newton’s first law of motion is very apparent in centripetal motion.  It basically says that objects tend to stay at a constant velocity (both magnitude and direction) unless an outside net force is present.  This will be proven mathematically and experimentally in the “work?” section.

Continue to LINEAR SPEED

İMatthew Hutchins 2004